top of page
  • Writer's pictureVivienne May Weddings

Marriage Legalities: Civil Ceremonies - All you Need to Know

There are many legalities to be completed before you can officially be married. In preparing for your wedding day, you have to ‘give notice’ of your intention to marry (this includes declarations to each other and signing the register), once all is completed you will then receive a signed Marriage Certificate and be legally married.

Wedding Planners in Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire Wedding Planner, Wedding Planners in Oxfordshire

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Austin Photography


Authors Bio: Vivienne May Weddings was founded and created by Kerrie May. With over 8 years of experience in the luxury wedding & event industry, Kerrie has worked at some of the UK’s most iconic venues alongside a selection of renowned industry professionals and worked with a selection of high-net worth couples.

Kerrie is a UK Wedding Planner and has a distinctive reputation amongst her fellow luxury wedding professionals. Her wealth of experience, industry knowledge and unrivalled passion for bringing her clients vision to life is what drives her to plan impeccably designed, style-led and perfectly co-ordinated weddings, with romance at its heart.


I often get asked ‘How much does a Registrar cost?’ but unfortunately there’s not a simple answer. All Registry Offices usually charge set fees for the Marriage Certificate and the Marriage Licence however the fee for the Registrar to attend on your wedding day is where the price can be substantially different depending on time of year, day of the week and even time of the day.

You most likely already know that getting married on a Saturday in August around midday is the most sought-after for couples to secure but unfortunately this means that this is the most expensive time of year to get married with a Registrar. This is the same around key dates of the year too, from Easter, to Christmas and even New Years Eve, these will be some of the most expensive dates on their calendar.

Wedding Planners in Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire Wedding Planner, Wedding Planners in Oxfordshire

Photo Credit: Pinterest

I have broken down the processes and legalities below to help you through one of the most important aspects of your wedding day.

How do I Book my Wedding Registrars?

Once you have your civil ceremony venue on hold you need to contact the Registrar Office local to the venue. To book your wedding ceremony, simply create your Registrars booking account via the local councils website.

When can I book Registrars for my Wedding Day?

Bookings can be made up to 2 years in advance and there is a non-refundable booking fee payable. The booking fee confirms the date, time and place of your ceremony.

What is Giving Notice?

‘Giving Notice’ is simply informing the Registrars of your intention to marry each other.

Why do you need to ‘Give Notice’?

Giving notice is a legal requirement in the UK and is a declaration that you are free to marry to one another. This ensures that you are of legal age to marry, legally widowed/divorced or that you have the right visas to marry if you are from outside the UK.

When do you ‘Give Notice’?

You usually give notice within 1 year prior to your wedding day but it needs to be at least 29 days before your wedding date.

How do you ‘Give Notice’?

To ‘Give Notice’ you need to;

  1. Book an appointment at your local register office (even if your venue is in a different county).

  2. Prepare the documentation that you need to take along with you, including; evidence of your name, date of birth and nationality and evidence of your place of residence. If applicable, you will also need to provide evidence of ending a previous marriage or civil partnership (due to divorce or death).

  3. Pay the Statutory Fee: ranging from £35 to £47 per person, either in advance or on the day.

  4. At the appointment, you will meet the Superintendent Registrar who will ask for the above legal documentation, plus confirmation of your venue booking to prove where you are looking to host your wedding ceremony.

  5. You will also have a chat with the Superintendent Registrar who will make sure you are legally free to marry and understand what you are doing.

  6. The Notice of your marriage is posted at the register office for 28 days.

  7. At the end of the 28 days, the registrar can then confirm that you can marry.

  8. Congratulations! You have officially Given your Notice of your intention to marry and can proceed with your wedding within 12 months.

Wedding Planners in Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire Wedding Planner, Wedding Planners in Oxfordshire

Photo Credit: Melissa Beattie

What happens at a Civil Ceremony?

As of May 2021, you no longer sign the marriage register during the ceremony and instead you both sign a Schedule that the Registrars provide on the day (this contains all of your personal details and your ceremony venue details that you gave to the Superintendent Registrar when you Gave Notice).

Both of you, your witnesses and your Registrar sign the Schedule at the end of your ceremony and the details are then entered into the electronic Marriage Register by the Registrar after your wedding ceremony.

How long does a Civil Ceremony take?

It varies depending on how many readings you choose to add in and your own vows but on average it takes around 30 minutes.

What can I include in our Civil Ceremony?

Due to UK law, a Civil Ceremony unfortunately cannot include any religious elements, cultural tradition, or spiritual symbolism. For example, you cannot include hymns, religious readings or prayers.

Wedding Planners in Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire Wedding Planner, Wedding Planners in Oxfordshire

Photo Credit: Sarah Vivienne Photography

What is a Marriage Certificate?

This provides proof that you are legally married – make sure to keep it somewhere safe!

How do you get your Marriage Certificate?

Unfortunately you are not automatically sent your Marriage Certificate. You will need to contact your local Register Office to ask them to send you the certificate.

When do you get your Marriage Certificate?

You will receive your Marriage Certificate after your wedding is registered following your ceremony, this is usually issued within 7 days of your details being added to the electronic Marriage Register. However the Registrar has 21 days following your wedding ceremony to add the details onto the Register.

How much is a Marriage Certificate?

The cost of a Marriage Certificate is £11 and is posted within 10 working days of payment being received.

Within your ceremony you can also include non-religious readings or poems and if you are looking for some of the most romantic poems, check out my blog here for inspiration.

Note: Costs correct at time of publishing.

Related Posts

See All


bottom of page